Monday, October 28, 2013

SPI alumnus moves to the top to drive community media change

By Peter du Toit

Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership (SPI) alumnus Bongi Bozo has seen her career in grassroots media development expand from local to regional level and to the national level in three short but very busy years.

After graduating from the SPI with a Postgraduate Diploma in Media Management (PDMM) in 2010, Bozo started out as an outreach assistant working for Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies’ Indaba Ziyafika Project.

Her job entailed helping high school learners produce a magazine show on the local community broadcaster Radio Grahamstown. She was also involved with the project’s citizen journalism initiative.

This is where it all began. “I discovered my passion for grassroots media,” Bozo said. A year later she was appointed coordinator of the Eastern Cape Communication Forum and worked with grassroots media across the province.

Her work included running capacity building workshops, providing onsite advisory services and organising and running training courses for media managers.

Bozo’s latest move is to the big smoke where she will take over as project coordinator/ manager for the Association of Independent Publishers of South Africa (AIP). There she will work closely with AIP Director Louise Vale.

Looking forward to the Johannesburg-based job, Bozo says: “I was born, bread and buttered in the Eastern Cape and I will always be attached to the province, but this position will allow me to make my two cents worth’s contribution nationally.

“As someone whose life purpose is to contribute towards change, I believe I will be well positioned in the AIP to go the extra mile and explore avenues I may not have been able to explore provincially.”

Why is she so passionate about grassroots media? Bozo says these newspapers and broadcasters reach out to ordinary citizens who are never given a voice in the mainstream media. They ensure the voices of people “who do not sit at the tables where decisions are made” are represented.

This passion for change drives the grassroots reporters, editors and owners and Bozo wants to support them in their work.

Bozo attributes much of her personal success to lessons learned during her postgraduate year with the SPI.

She says the PDMM enabled her to develop a holistic understanding of the media sector and prepared her to advise managers and to assess media organisations to identify areas that need attention.

“I think most of my work towards strengthening the grassroots media sector is all credit to SPI. I have basically taken most of the knowledge gained from my postgraduate studies and channelled it to grassroots media.”